Materials for studying Mandarin on my own?

I’m interested in learning spoken Mandarin, plus Pinyin notation. Not planning on joining any schools, taking tutors or doing language exchange, not at the moment at least.

Do you know any good resources such as online courses, apps or maybe books with audio which could help me with that?

I don’t have any suggestions based on experience according to your criteria, but being someone who has gone from “unable to order food”-level Chinese to being able to make public presentations in Chinese, I will encourage you that it indeed takes a LOT of work, but it can be done. (I did private tutoring and learned via the Taiwanese Bo-po-mo-fo system, which opens up a lot of children’s books for self-learning)

When you feel like you’ve made a ton of progress, celebrate! When you realize the next day that you are more Chinese-challenged than you realized, don’t get too down. Language learning is a journey and just takes a lot of time, patience, and practice. I’m currently trying to polish my Koine Greek and Ancient Hebrew reading comprehension and Latin Grammar, so my experience has led me to realize that learning languages doesn’t just “come to you.” It just takes lots of work. Good luck!

To start with, can find a lot of great information if search this site for “Self study learn Chinese” or something similar.

I always search whatever forums I’m using first before asking. On Forumosa very often you will get results from 10 or more years back. It was the case here as well, hence my question.

True. Just trying to offer help.

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Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner is a great book that explains how to self-study any language. I HIGHLY recommend that you read it! It’s available as an audiobook on Audible if you prefer that format. His website also has a bunch of useful resources and blog posts for learning Mandarin in particular.

Basically the name of the game for self-teaching a language is Anki. If you don’t already know about it, it’s a free flashcard app that uses a spaced-repetition system to optimise memorisation.

Once you have learned enough vocab, get a grammar book (I’m not sure how you’ll go with just pinyin and no Chinese characters) to learn grammar.

Eventually you will need to speak to native speakers if you actually want to be able to gain any level of fluency, so language exchange, tutoring, or conversation classes are a must.

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There are a lot of “teach yourself” courses and sources available, but they are almost invariably geared toward the kind of Mandarin spoken in China (particularly Beijing). rather than in Taiwan. The difference is akin to British vs. American English, with differences in vocabulary, pronunciation and writing. You’ll be understood, but they’ll definitely notice your accent.

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I haven’t tried it, but just remember a Formosa has offered something.

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These are the books they use at Mandarin Teaching center NTNU vol 1 through 5. They have audio and everything. You can buy them at lucky bookstore on heping dong lu 2nd floor.

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Also use at Shida Uni, Wenhua Uni, and Taipei language schools.

You may already know this, but there’s an Chinese/English dictionary app called Pleco that’s fantastic. Basic content is free but it’s possible to purchase many different dictionaries etc. I found it to be an indispensible resource.


Thank you for the suggestions. I might try the PAVC book.

For the record, I do of course intend on practicing live, it’s just I have enough friends around to do it with so don’t need to do official language exchange.

I bought the whole Pleco package some time ago. It’s great, though a bit limiting since it’s “just” a dictionary - I found myself using Microsoft Translator much more since it can handle whole phrases (and it’s OCR seems to be bit better too for that reason). But I guess Pleco will get more useful when I move onto some more serious, school-like studying.

I’ve been studying Chinese for a few years for conversation, reading, and to type, not write.

I used University text books, other recommended books, picture books, children’s books, listening to CDs, computer courses like Rosetta Stone, smartphone apps, iPad apps, podcasts, watching TV and movies with Chinese and pinyin subtitles, putting notes on things at home, language exchange, language groups, one on one tutor, recordings while sleeping…zzzz…

Still trying to find what is best for me.

A free feature of Pleco that is especially useful (once you’re ready to start reading authentic material in Chinese) is the ability to cut and past any Chinese text into the app and have it integrated with your dictionaries and flashcards. I found the Tuttle Chinese English Dictionary to be excellent as it limits the vocabularly to 3600 (if I remember correctly) very common and useful words, giving detailed examples and explaining tricky points of useage

Regarless of which resources you use, Id recommend making audio imput central to your initial learning. It’s fine to first read and study a dialogue in a textbook say, but make sure you’re then repeatedly listening to (and mimicking) the audio without looking at any text. It’s fine to listen to the same little dialogue 10 or 20 times before moving on: you really need to be able to understand the audio of simple sentences (not isolated words) automatically. If you can get a lot of practice with intense listening and repeating what you hear, you’ll find that when youre ready to start basic conversations in Chinese in real life you’re able to understand and speak automatically, as opposed to trying to translate English sentences into Chinese in your head first

+1 for Pleco and studying with the materials NTNU uses, which you can buy at Lucky Bookstore. I use Pleco alllllllll the time. Here’s my favorite new word I’ve learned recently:




dare you to add that to your user name :sunglasses:

Hmm…the only “title” available to me is Regular…how many shitposts do I have to make to unlock custom titles?

Iirc, you just need to request to @yyy.